I recently wrote a post that offended some of my dear friends which only proved that I am terrible at writing. I guess it could prove I am a terrible friend but for the sake of this post I will assume the first. On Wednesdays I have been trying to unpack the topic of communication but have been focusing primarily on the presentation of the spoken word. Today I would like to handle the written word for just a moment.
With the spoken word most of us preachers know that people forget 95% of what we teach in the first 72 hours. The written word however is there forever. Unless you can retrieve every copy it will live on. Blogs make this even worse. I can delete a post from my blog but not from people’s RSS readers. With that in mind I would like to share a few simple tips on how to me misunderstood and present a written message that is sure to be effective at doing exactly what you didn’t intend for it to do.
1. Publish Your First Draft.
Edit, proofread, rewrite? Who wants to go through all that. You know what you meant to say and you need to get it out there as soon as possible. Besides, if you understand it so will everyone else.
2. Offer Blazing Generalizations.
Why should you have to explain yourself. Lump everyone in your limited perspective and opinions and then blast them. Great writers know everyone better than they know themselves. They also know that stereotypes are completely accurate. If people can’t handle being lumped in with everyone else than they shouldn’t be a part of the human race.
3. Use Misleading or Seemingly Targeted Examples.
Just because your example or illustration really happened and might be taken as a direct stab at someone who can relate to the accusation doesn’t mean you should refrain. Speak your mind. Air your discontent. Tell that story about that one time a friend forgot your birthday and how awful they are. If another friend who forgot your birthday gets offended, it’s their fault for misunderstanding who you were actually targeting.
4. Name Names.
Just because you name names and then use a targeted example doesn’t mean that person should assume you are talking to them. You can’t censor your writing so all the people that you point out specifically won’t get offended. They should be able to read your mind. Besides, it’s what isn’t said that counts.
So there you have it. A surefire way to be misunderstood. Someday I will learn this delicate technique. Until then, be careful what you write…it might just get read.